The No. 17 Boston University field hockey team entered its first NCAA Tournament since 2007 this past Saturday, and despite its hard-fought effort, fell 2-1 to No. 4 Syracuse University.
The Terriers (13-8, 5-1 Patriot League) started off slow, allowing the Orange (16-5) to open the scoring first with a goal from senior Jordan Page off a penalty stroke in the 10th minute of play. BU fought back later in the first half, as sophomore forward Sara Martineau put the ball past Orange goalkeeper Jess Jecko on a rebound shot. Unfortunately for the Terriers, the goal was ruled illegal because Martineau shot the ball with the back of her stick.
“We competed, we gave ourselves the opportunity to win the game, and we had a couple of goals that were called back,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “I don’t think we played our best hockey game, but I definitely think we played well enough to win the game, especially against a team that’s ranked number four in the NCAA right now.
“We defended exceptionally well, only allowing two corners, which is the fewest Syracuse has had all season.”
Senior goalkeeper Valentina Cerda Eimbcke put forth a strong first half in her final game as a Terrier, making a total of six saves during Syracuse offensive rushes to keep the Terriers in the game.
“[Eimbcke] was huge for us,” Starr said. “She kept us in the game, and she made the big saves. She’s had a great year and been a tremendous captain as well.”
In the second half, the Terriers played much more aggressively. However, Orange freshman Lieke Visser was first to strike off of a top-shelf shot from just inside the circle, giving Syracuse the 2-0 lead in the 49th minute.
The Terriers’ hard work finally paid off in the 69th minute when sophomore midfielder Hester van der Laan was awarded a second penalty stroke and scored, adding BU to the scoreboard. In the final 30 seconds of the match, BU was able to get one last rush down the field but was unable to generate a goal past the Syracuse defense.
“We dominated the second half,” Starr said. “We absolutely kept the ball in our attacking zone. We pressed well and created a great goal-scoring opportunity.”
Eimbcke would make a total of eight saves throughout the game, while Jecko would make five, of which would all occur during the second half.
“I would’ve liked to see us play with a little bit more poise and possession,” Starr said. “I think that our passing game is a strength of ours, and I don’t really think we moved the ball around particularly well against Syracuse.”
“For a young team and for a first experience in the NCAA [Tournament], I felt that we competed successfully against a very, very good team.”